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Dori: DUI leniency in this state is pathetic, puts us all at risk

If a repeat offender is able to get a possible six DUIs without being charged with a felony, then our DUI laws are too lenient, says Dori. (AP)

A 24-year-old woman in Renton is in a coma after being hit by a repeat DUI offender while she was on her bike.

KOMO 4 News had the story of the man who hit the woman while he was allegedly high on PCP and painkillers. It illustrates how ridiculous and how pathetic the DUI laws are in our state.

Vern Henderson’s background of driving while impaired is unthinkable. He has four DUI convictions — two in the last decade — and is awaiting for a trial for a fifth. This latest one would be his sixth, if charged. According to Washington law, four DUIs in a decade is a felony. However, Vern Henderson cannot be charged with felony DUI for this latest case, because he has not yet been convicted for the previous case, the one that would mark the third in 10 years. You need three convictions before the fourth DUI in 10 years occurs in order to be charged with a felony.

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Can you believe that? This is a guy who has five DUIs and allegedly a sixth, and has put a young woman in a coma, and we can’t charge him as a three-time offender because of the technicalities in our law. We have prosecutors in King County who have essentially legalized personal possession of drugs. We have heroin RVs scattered throughout the region. We may as well have legalized drugs in King County, because we certainly have decriminalized them; to me, there is no distinction between decriminalization and legalization.

This is the extent of the madness of the policies in our region, where we want to be the drug capital of America. I truly am trying to figure out the mentality of the city councils and county council and King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. There are human consequences to decriminalization that go far beyond the user. I’m talking about all of the crime victims — the people whose homes are getting broken into, the people whose cars are getting stolen, the people being assaulted, and the people whose loved ones are left in a coma because of repeat offenders.

If you’re a longtime listener of this show, you’ll  know that one of the first causes I took on when I got this show was that we need to toughen DUI laws. I would be draconian with DUI laws if I were in charge.

First offense, I would have some leniency, because I truly believe that anybody can make a mistake one time. I really do. A person could get behind the wheel and not realize that they were over the limit, and I don’t think we should ruin their lives over a first-time DUI.

Second time? A year in jail. The stats are that for every time you’re convicted of a DUI, you’ve probably driven drunk 50 times without getting caught.

Third time? Three strikes you’re out. You’re going to jail for life. Even if you haven’t caused a crash, we’ll put your drunken self behind bars permanently because you’re eventually going to kill or seriously injure someone.

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